Objective: to determine the prevalence of women's use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) during pregnancy in the UK, reasons for use, who recommended CAM, and the characteristics of women that are associated with use of CAM during pregnancy.
Design: cross-sectional questionnaire.
Setting: Birmingham Women's Hospital.
Participants: 315 postnatal women were surveyed while on the postnatal ward.
Findings: the questionnaire response rate was 89% (315/355). CAM use during pregnancy was reported by 180 women (57.1%). CAM users differed significantly from non-CAM users by education level, parity and previous CAM use before pregnancy. Vitamins (34.9%), massage therapy (14.0%), yoga (11.1%) and relaxation (10.2%) were the most commonly reported uses of CAM. 33.0% of women reported they did not disclose their use of CAM to a doctor or midwife, and 81.3% were not asked by their doctor or midwife about their use of CAM during pregnancy.
Key conclusions and implications for practice: this study found a high prevalence of CAM use during pregnancy, which is within the range of findings of studies from Australia and Germany. It is important that health-care providers routinely ask about CAM use during pregnancy and are able to provide pregnant women with appropriate advice regarding CAM use.
Keywords: Complementary and alternative medicine; Cross sectional study; Pregnancy.
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